NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Rick Santorum is looking to win Missouri, twice, but Mitt Romney is standing in his way. Santorum overwhelmingly won the Missouri "beauty contest" primary on Feb. 7, when he rejuvenated his campaign with binding victories in Colorado and Minnesota.
Since that primary was nothing more than an expensive straw vote, (it was non-binding with no delegates at stake) Romney has a chance to grab delegates or even post an outright win. "We're thinking if we have a good turnout,
Santorum will probably be the winner," said Jim Fitts, Jackson County GOP vice chairman. Santorum won the Missouri primary with 55.2% of the vote and all 114 counties in the state. Romney placed second, well behind at 25.3%. Santorum won Fitts' Jackson County 48.5% to Romney's 31.5%. The former Pennsylvania senator's opponents argued in February that they didn't put the same kind of time into the Missouri primary as Santorum because it wouldn't have any bearing on the greater Republican race. With state caucuses set to begin Thursday, Romney's campaign has reappeared there with former Sen. Jim Talent (R., Mo.) rallying supporters. Even Ron Paul on Thursday headed to Missouri as he hopes to grab a few delegates in the caucus process -- the type of contests that favor Paul's strategy. The majority of county caucuses take place this Saturday, but a few of the larger metropolitan areas will hold contests March 24 to avoid conflict with St. Patrick's Day parades. Romney has struggled to pick up delegates for the GOP nomination as quickly as anticipated, and he's even campaigned in U.S. territories to win small, nine-delegate contests (he and Santorum are both campaigning in Puerto Rico this week). Each Missouri county creates its own caucus rules, according to thegreenpapers.com. Fitts said the exact procedure in Jackson County will be determined by the rules committee on the day of the caucus. All the county caucuses will select delegates to be sent to the congressional district conventions and state convention. Those county delegates selected are not bound to their preference, and may change preference when they participate at the congressional and state conventions.
Santorum's campaign is on the ground again in Missouri as it hopes to win a substantial number of the state's 52 delegates off the momentum it gained in February, but it will have to keep an eye on Romney and Paul who have hit some of the state's biggest population centers. Asked if Romney's seeming inevitability would compel voters to switch from Santorum, Fitts said nothing in the GOP race is inevitable. "I don't think it's inevitable ... but I think that the most common view is anything we got is better than what we have," Fitts said, referring to President Barack Obama. -- Written by Joe Deaux in New York. >Contact by Email. >Follow Joe Deaux on Twitter. Subscribe on Facebook.